Huw Jones | Our Journey
Huw Jones broke onto the scene back in 2016 during the summer tour to Japan, making his debut off the bench in the second Test win in Tokyo (21-16).
Since then, he has gone on to attain 39 international caps for Scotland and 59 for his club Glasgow Warriors. We caught up with Huw as part of our “Our Journey” series, brought to you by sportsbreaks.com, taking you closer than ever to the team as they prepare for Rugby World Cup 2023.
Scotland came into camp over sixteen weeks ago to kick start their Rugby World Cup preparations, which included four summer fixtures.
After securing a 21-13 win over Italy in the first round at Scottish Gas Murrayfield Scotland and a 25-21 win over France, the team travelled to their base in Nice to make adequate preparations ahead of France at home.
“We were excited to be in Nice, although we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We’d had the first two tests at home and won both of those, so we were excited to face them again.
“We trained at Stade Niçoise where we will be based throughout the Rugby World Cup, before travelling down to St Etienne for team run. The stadium is smaller and more compact, seating around 42,000 supporters. It’s a football stadium so the stands are right over the pitch, not a lot of space between fans and players.
“It turned out to be one of the best experiences and atmospheres I’ve ever played in.”
Whether you were at Saint Etienne or watching from home the atmosphere throughout the match was palpable. Scotland were hungry for the win and France were fighting hard at home.
“I love when there’s an atmosphere because it makes everything more electric. I remember coming out for the warm-up as the stadium was filling up. Just as we started doing our final drills the crowd started singing and I couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t hear the person next to me, couldn’t hear any calls which was a bit daunting thinking we’re about to play a game in these conditions but it was amazing to have that level of excitement surrounding the game.
“It didn’t matter that it wasn’t for us, they were singing for their team, and it made the atmosphere just incredible.”
Replicating the set-up of what the team will encounter during the Rugby World Cup was crucial for preparation. Living and training in the same facilities allows the team to get a better feel for what it will be like in the coming weeks.
Playing France at home is equally as important to replicate the pressure of international away fixtures without 60,000+ home supporters. Although Scotland ultimately came up short at the end (30-27) there were a lot of positives to take from the game in St Etienne.
“We were gutted to lose but there definitely were a lot of positives to take away.
“We started well and were unfortunate not to turn that into points early on. The first five minutes of the second half really let us down and in test match rugby that can cost you the entire game – the smallest switch-off or error costs you.
“I felt we did well to come back but ultimately when you’re playing against one of the top teams in the world you need to be on it for eighty minutes and that’s the whole point of the warmup games.”
Following the loss to France Scotland travelled home to prepare for their final home fixture of 2023 against Georgia. During this week Head Coach Gregor Townsend also announced his squad for the Rugby World Cup which included Huw Jones – his first involvement in a Rugby World Cup.
“Making it to a Rugby World Cup is the goal for any international rugby player, it’s the pinnacle of what you can achieve, so having this opportunity is huge.”
“It was a very special moment for me and the family but really the biggest thing for me was the sense of relief that I’d made the cut. We had done all the work in pre-season, I was fit, I had played well so I was happy and very proud to be named in the squad.”
Heading into the final summer fixture, Scotland continued to promote consistency within their training environment by replicating Rugby World Cup processes with the hopes of securing a win against Georgia in front of a home crowd.
“Playing at home is incredibly special. You don’t get that kind of arrival and fan interaction at many other stadiums around the world. Arriving on the bus on match day with fans surrounding the place is amazing and when you get up to the entrance there’s people on the ground cheering and people all the way up the stairs. Having fans there singing and cheering, the excitement they have for the games, we absolutely love it.
“We knew coming into the game Georgia were going to be a tough side to play against – they have a good winning record and they’re a physical side. We took too long to get into the game with too many turnovers which is something we were really disappointed with as we want to be playing fast, attacking rugby with ball in hand.
“But we didn’t lose our heads. We knew a lot of stuff was good in the first-half, we attacked well at times and defended well given how many turnovers we had without conceding a try. It wasn’t all doom and gloom; we came out with intent for the second half and put the plan into action. We were delighted to secure the win for fans at our last home game of the year before heading off to France.”
The team are now in Nice making final preparations ahead of this Sunday’s first Pool B fixture against South Africa. Support Scotland by watching the game live on STV at 4.45pm (UK time).
Find more information on sportsbreaks packages for Rugby World Cup 2023 at: bit.ly/SRURWCPackages
Watch the full episode of Our Journey below: